What Does Packaging Really Mean?
If you have purchased something because it “sparks joy” for you, then shouldn’t the product itself be more exciting than the packaging it comes in?
I recently spent a Christmas gift card I had been given at a popular store that shall remain nameless. I spent about $50 on a sweatshirt. Yeah, that’s right. If I didn’t have the gift card, I would never have spent that amount of money on a sweatshirt. At checkout, the lovely lady working behind the counter folded my sweatshirt up nicely in brightly-colored tissue paper then placed it gently in a fancy, well-made, brightly colored gift bag. I felt like I had just received a gift --like the packaging was more exciting than the grey sweatshirt I had just dropped $50 on. This beautifully wrapped purchase left the mall, went to my car, drove home and sat on the kitchen counter until I decided to wear the sweatshirt. The packaging- which had the company name and logo all over the bag and tissue paper- ended up in the recycle bin. I ended up taking the bag out and used it to store something in my newly Marie-Kondo organized pantry. I realized how unnecessary all that fluff was and how the product inside didn’t really bring me all that much joy. The purchase was unnecessary and the fluff to make it more exciting was even more so. While I appreciate pretty things, I wonder sometimes if the packaging is a smoke and mirrors method to distract from the quality of the product itself.
Since going through my entire house as I’ve tried to implement the KonMari Method, and after donating a truckload of “stuff” to the local Salvation Army, I’m looking at any new purchases through a different lens. For one, I’m trying to weigh my purchases carefully and also trying to reduce my environmental impact through the use of fewer plastics, fewer chemicals, and companies that share my same goals.
In doing research and in my recent trip to the UK, Europeans seem to have more environmentally conscious options available to them. Even when looking for a shampoo bar online after the sickening realization that two of my bathroom showers were filled with over 20 plastic bottles/containers, I found most of the companies providing these types of products were in the UK which didn’t coincide with my plan to reduce carbon emissions due to shipping from overseas.
Here’s how I am reducing my plastic use and carbon footprint:
Buying local or made in the USA products - The fewer miles a product needs to travel, the fewer carbons emitted via planes, trains, and automobiles to get it to my doorstep. There is also less packaging needed since the product won’t go through as much wear-and-tear when getting transported. When I can buy local, I do. When I can’t, I try to buy products made nearby or in the USA.
Buying B-Corp - Buying from B-Corp businesses who give a darn about the environment and keep a close eye on their manufacturing process and shipping. This typically means boxes made from recycled materials and without all the fluff inside that detract from the product itself.
Minimal packaging costs should also be reflected in product pricing. If I’m not paying for the fluff to make the package look pretty, that means the price I am paying goes directly to the manufacturer, their employees, and more profits can be donated to whatever charitable cause that manufacturer supports.
Sword & Plough is a B-Corp that prides itself on minimal packaging. Products come in a non-assuming brown cardboard box made from recycled materials. Inside is a high quality, well-made product wrapped in one (not 5) pieces of recycled tissue paper. The products are all made in the USA, incorporating military surplus materials. The company employs veterans and works with vendors who do the same. Sword & Plough donates 10% of net profit to veteran non-profit organizations.
Not to mention the beautiful bags inside the box are far more exciting than the package they come in and should be!
So I challenge you, next time you receive a perfectly multi-layered packaged product, to ask yourself the true cost of its pretty facade._________________________________________________________________________
About the Author:Jen Flickinger is a full time working mom of 3 busy kids. Married to a USMC and Army National Guard Veteran, Jen was drawn to the mission of Sword & Plough to bridge the civilian and military divide while promoting awesome looking products with an inspiring environmental message.